Catching Up With...

Catching Up With Brian Kuterbach, Director of Licensing, T.G.I. Friday’s

T.G.I. Friday’s recently announced plans to expand its licensed retail business by targeting new licensees in the food, beverage, and home goods categories. The brand currently has more than 50 million product units in stores with partners such as Heinz, Inventure, and Diageo, resulting in more than $400 million in sales annually, according to the company.

T.G.I. Friday’s recently announced that it has secured Brand Squared Licensing, a division of Peppercom, to seek new licensees. Brian Kuterbach, director of licensing for T.G.I. Friday’s, explains the plans.

Nancy Lombardi: What will consumers see in store for T.G.I. Friday’s licensed products?

Brian Kuterbach: The expanded licensing program aims to package the fun and excitement of a casual dining or a late night bar experience into products consumers can enjoy at home. Consumers will see trademarked designs and cues from the restaurant in the licensed products. The food and beverage products will be inspired by the restaurant’s menu and will capture the Friday’s flavor profile.

One of our goals with the licensing program is to help drive traffic to the restaurants and further build the brand. This is a complete branding statement so we will really challenge our licensees to help us promote and drive traffic from all angles.

N.L.: What type of home goods will be available to consumers?

B.K.: This is a very interesting segment for us. We have been successful in the food and beverage area for some time now but we also see potential with home goods. For example, we could create recipe books that are inspired by our Friday’s World Champion Bartenders. We could create drink-mixing machines. We are in development now on a number of opportunities. We expect items to be on shelf in early 2012. Our goal is to supplement our current offering, not cannibalize against it. The new products will be developed in new categories only.

N.L.: Who is the target demographic for the product line?

B.K.: The target demographic for the product line is identical to the restaurant, which is adults ages 21–45 who are social, active, interested in fun, and are looking to extend that experience and excitement beyond the restaurant.

N.L.: What does Brand Squared Licensing, a division of Peppercom, offer T.G.I Friday’s?

B.K.: We were looking for a company that could help us manage the size and the potential of the brand. Brand Squared fit that need for us. Their staff has many years of licensing experience on different levels from a licensee and licensor perspective. Brand Squared is a division of Peppercom, which is a strategic communications firm that is also retained by Friday’s. This is the interesting part for us because not only will Brand Squared be challenged to secure new licensing deals but they will also have the ability to publicize the products when it hits shelves.